Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Smart on Crime Conference Highlights Powerful Collaboration and Data-Driven Innovative Ideas Around Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Press Release

RELEASE: Smart on Crime Conference Highlights Powerful Collaboration and Data-Driven Innovative Ideas Around Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Missed the conference? Click here to watch videos of the Smart on Crime Innovations Conference sessions.

New York, N.Y. — Earlier this week, advocates, community leaders, criminal justice practitioners, elected officials, researchers, among others have participated in the Smart on Crime Innovations Conference, hosted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Center for American Progress, and the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. The conference’s focus was to highlight the data-driven innovations and interventions happening around the country in the criminal justice and public safety spaces, and ensuring awareness in order to promote them across cities and states in the United States.

“Today, tragically, the national narrative doesn’t currently reflect the tremendous steps that are being taken by bold community advocates, law enforcement, and elected officials to ensure this and this and that and the other,” said Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “But the reality is that there are innovations that deserve our attention, and across the country there are people in every field and of all ideologies committed to pursuing smart, fair, and effective criminal justice and public safety policies.”

Presenters including Former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Vanita Gupta of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Koch Industries general counsel Mark Holden, Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez, Ilham Askia of Gideon’s Promise, Forward Justice’s Daryl Atkinson, and Glenn E. Martin from JustLeadershipUSA illustrated that the movement toward a smarter, more just, and more effective approach to criminal justice is by no means stalled. The conference, which was livestreamed, consisted of dynamic panels, keynote speeches, and armchair discussions that brought together criminal justice practitioners and individuals who have been affected by the criminal justice system, showcasing how they’re developing solutions together.

Sessions included discussions around the topics of advocacy in the 21st century, justice system accountability, representing the accused, voices of the impacted community, data-informed strategies, reentry and criminal records, reducing recidivism/crime and violence, change through litigation, technology and smart on crime, tackling the opioid epidemic, the role of the prosecutor, community corrections, media and crime and justice, and a closing session about next steps. For a full list of sessions and presenters, visit the Smart on Crime website at

“John Jay is like a U.N. for justice issues where we bring people together—from across the justice system and across differing perspectives—to discuss complex issues and dissect problems using data, research, and evidence. What we share is a desire to find justice, to learn about what’s working and to experiment with new things. Based on the evidence of what works, we aspire to guide policy and investments for the future,” said Karol V. Mason, president of the John Jay College for Criminal Justice. “We are so proud to partner with the Center for American Progress and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation to host the Smart on Crime Innovations Conference at John Jay. We thank all our sponsors for supporting this powerful dialogue addressing criminal justice reform.”

For more information, including future products related to this conference, please contact Tanya Arditi at [email protected] or 202-741-6258.


An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit and follow @JohnJayCollege on Twitter.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early stage, high impact social enterprises. We believe that with early funding and rigorous support, exceptional leaders, tackling some of society’s most complex problems, can make the world a better place.